Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Eat More Home Cooked Meals

You'd be hard pressed to find a person who doesn't love a home cooked meal. Even the most seasoned diner loves to crowd around the dining room table. So what if if the dishes don't match the cup? Who cares if the wine glasses aren't all the same size, and if you have to sit on a barstool instead of a real chair? Even the taint of doing dishes afterwards can't spoil a real homecooked meal.

But those homecooked meals are not simple feasts for most of us. Grandma's and Mother's make these meals look simple and effortless, but as any budding chef will tell you: these meals often result in a full days effort, plus time to prepare, shop, and clean house.

While I won't discourage anyone from trying their hand at a homespun feast, unless you have hours upon hours of free time every day, such an effort is not only impracticle but almost impossible.

Still, the homecooked meal is not to be forsaken. You can make meals from scratch without spending a boat load of time. Here's how:

(1) Stock up on spices, oils, and keep a few basic ingredients in the house at all times. This way, you will only need to stock up on produce, meat and dairy at the grocery store. I always have:

olive oil
vegetable oil
balsamic vinegar
apple cider vinegar
soy sauce
hot sauce (multiple kinds actually, I'm a sucker for spice)

garlic powder
sea salt
pepper in a grinder
chili powder
red pepper flakes (mmm, love me some spice)
taco seasoning

Produce/Refridgerated foods:
garlic cloves
limes and lemons

If you eat dairy:
parmesan cheese

Dry goods:
rice - usually a wild rice and a brown/basmati rice
canned garbanzo beans and black beans
stewed tomatoes
tomato sauce
tomato paste
sesame seeds

(2) Prepare a big batch of grains on the weekend. Pick a grain or two and prepare a huge container to store in your fridge for the week. Try to pick a few recipes which will center around these items.

(3) Cut out cooking. Get creative with your salads and cold recipes. Make salads a bigger part of the meal by adding substantial ingredients such as nuts, avocado, and seeds. This will cut down the need to cook two or three things.

(4) Get a crock-pot and learn to use to it. So many excellent soups, stews, and other recipes can be made on a crock-pot. All you do is dump everything in it, turn it on and go.

(5) Roast vegetables. Cut up vegetables, put them on a pan in the oven along side your meat or protien of choice, pour a sauce on top (or use plain sea salt and pepper), then stick in the over until good smells waft out of the kitchen. (Make vegetables the same thickness as the protein to ensure even cooking times).

(6) Learn the art of stir-fries. Cook your protein, dump a bag of frozen veggies when almost cooked, and then add a sauce at the end. You can buy stir-fry sauces at the store or make one with: 1 cup broth, 3 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. Add a little water mixed with flour to thicken up the sauce at the end.

(7) Make more casseroles. Dump everything in a pan (or sometimes artfully arrange it), then bake.

Cooking your own meals certainly sounds scary, but that's because we tend to hold ourselves up to our Mother's standards. Give yourself a break! Make your kitchen, YOUR kitchen.

Happy cooking!

No comments:

Post a Comment